My husband and I have very different ways of decompressing from stress. I tend to run manic most of the time, and even when I’m sitting in one spot, my brain is going a thousand miles an hour. It can be very difficult for me to turn off, chill out, slow down, unwind, at the end of a long day. For me, stress isn’t relieved by leaving my to-do lists undone and walking away with no plan for how things are going to get finished. I cannot relax until the dishwasher is filled and started, the counters wiped down, and the laundry picked up off the floor in the bathroom. If there are field trip permission forms or weekly folders that require my signature, I sign them and put them on the table where the kids can’t miss them in the morning.
At that point, I can fix a glass of ice-cold water and sit down to wrap up all of my online loose ends. Open tabs that have been waiting for my attention all day are reviewed and either saved for later viewing, or read and closed. A half-written blog post that has auto-saved itself every 30 seconds for the last hour must still be manually saved into drafts before I can close the window. I make notes of what I need to accomplish the next day in an open Notepad document, and give my Facebook feed one more quick look before I am satisfied that I can set the computer aside until the following day.
Then, and only then, can I really begin the process of unwinding the kinks and coils from my over-worked, manic brain. I knit at night, the only time when I have uninterrupted time to make progress on the long list of projects I hope to complete for my loved ones. I knit and try not to think too hard about anything overly important. After all, I’ve been focusing on those things all day, and this is my decompression time.
My husband, on the other hand, has a different method of stress relief. He will help me with the kitchen clean-up with no question, but it would not bother him if the kitchen/bathroom/laundry were left for the next day. Once the kids are tucked into their beds, he proceeds directly to his comfy leather chair, and there you can find him for the remainder of the night. Sometimes he draws, or we talk about our day. I fill him in on the funny thing that Addah said this afternoon, and the cute boy that flirted with Lakin in the lunchroom.
And then, he turns on the Xbox 360. He has a different gaming style than I. When I used to play all the time, in those far gone days before kids, I would play one game, to the exclusion of any other, until I had beaten it to my satisfaction. I wanted all rewards collected, every trophy awarded, no stone unturned. I was driven about my games, and come to think of it, I treated them about the same way that I now treat housework, blog writing and knitting.
David is not so driven in his gaming. He usually has several video games going at one time. One night he’ll play Batman: Arkham City, the next night he’ll play Fable 2, then spend a couple nights on Assassin’s Creed 3. He immerses himself in whatever game he’s playing, and takes out all of the day’s stress, aggression and frustration on whatever pixelated enemies are running at him. I’m sure when he gets his hands on a copy of the new Far Cry 3, he will play it like a madman for nights on end.
I love that he has a way to release the tensions of his busy and physically exhausting work day. I love that I have learned how to expel my mania effectively at the end of the day, so I can enjoy a quiet and fairly mindless hour or two before it is our bedtime. By the time the clock strikes midnight or so, we’re both pretty well decompressed from the day, which makes falling asleep a piece of cake.
It’s a good thing, because every tomorrow promises to be just as stressful as the day before it, and 6:30 comes awfully early in the morning.
What do you do to decompress at the end of a busy and stressful day? Leave me a comment and tell me your tried-and-true methods for releasing stress and tension so you can sleep well at night.